Conor McGregor makes his much anticipated return to the Octagon, on Saturday July 19th, against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 champion Diego Brandao in the featherweight main event of UFC Fight Night 46. McGregor will be fighting in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland at The O2 arena. Irishman McGregor has become so popular, so quickly that he has achieved headliner status in just his third UFC fight. Gunnar Nelson will meet Zak Cummings in the co-main event. Nelson has earned two of his three UFC victories by first-round submission, while Cummings is one of 12 fighters in UFC history to finish a fight via D’arce choke submission. Below is my UFC Fight Night 46 preview and predictions along with the UFC Fight Night 46 Odds.
Conor McGregor (14-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is one of the UFC’s most popular personalities and finds himself headlining, with just two fights to his name. McGregor fought to a decision for the first time in his career in his most recent bout. He defeated Max Holloway on the judge’s scorecards at UFC Fight Night 26. He recorded the third fastest debut victor in UFC featherweight history with his 67-second knockout of Marcus Brimage at UFC on FUEL TV 9.
Diego Brandao (18-9 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is a tough fighter who will show whether McGregor can walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. Brandao is 3-2 under the UFC banner since defeating Dennis Bermudez to win “The Ultimate Fighter 14.”
Brandao lands 3.35 takedowns per 15 minutes of fighting, the fifth highest rate in UFC featherweight history among fighters with at least five bouts. He’s been incredibly accurate, connecting with 13 of his 17 attempts for a takedown accuracy of 76.5 percent. He has defended 87.5 percent off all takedowns in his UFC featherweight career, the third best defense rate in divisional history behind Dennis Bermudez (91.3 percent) and champion Jose Aldo (88.9 percent).
Prediction: One of two stories will be told after Saturday night. Either McGregor was a flash in the pan, or he is truly the perfect fighter at the perfect time for a UFC that is desperately seeking star power.
Gunnar Nelson’s (12-0-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) three-fight UFC winning streak is tied for the fourth longest active streak in the welterweight division behind Matt Brown (seven), Ryan LaFlare (four) and Dong Hyun Kim (four). Nelson has earned 11 of his 12 career victories by submission (eight) or knockout (three). Ten of those finishes have come in the opening round.
Zak Cummings (17-3 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is one of 12 fighters in UFC history to finish a fight via D’arce choke submission. He used the technique to submit Ben Alloway at UFC Fight Night 27. Cummings has career losses to UFC veterans Ryan Jimmo and Tim Kennedy.
Prediction: I don’t think Nelson can be stopped. He’s a bit of a monster. He’ll beat Cummings to the positional punch and work his way into something nasty. I’m guessing a rear-naked choke.
Main Card Odds:
Conor McGregor (-450) vs. Diego Brandao (+325)
Gunnar Nelson (-450) vs. Zak Cummings (+325)
Brad Pickett (+145) vs. Ian McCall (-175)
Norman Parke (-325) vs. Naoyuki Kotani (+250)
Under Card Odds:
Ilir Latifi (-190) vs. Chris Dempsey (+155)
Neil Seery (-170) vs. Phil Harris (+140)
Cathal Pendred (-185) vs. Mike King (+150)
Tor Troeng () -185vs. Trevor Smith (+150)
Cody Donovan (-110) vs. Nikita Krylov (-120)
Patrick Holohan (+160) vs. Josh Sampo (-200)
UFC Fight Night 46
When: Saturday July 19@12:30 PM ET
Pick: McGregor -450/Nelson -450
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